Can I Please Just Eat My Kale Chips in Peace?

People need to stop asking me why I’m vegetarian when they really just want to know why I’m being so disruptive.

For every positive family member and seasoned fellow veggie, there’s always that one slick haired co-worker who calls me crazy mid-broccoli. I’m not sure how my mental health could be jeopardized by a lifetime of legumes, but the nasoya-sayers are numerous.

There’s the meat-enthusiasts (Why don’t you eat meat? Don’t you miss bacon? Like really, bacon.), to the nutritionists (You know your body’s going to shut down within seven years of not eating meat, right?) and even the well-intentioned oblivious (honestly, I’ve never thought about not eating meat before). All of these people think it prudent to ask why I’m vegetarian right as my kale chips turn the corner.

Believe it or not, I wasn’t even eating when I made my no-more-meat decision. When I became curious about vegetarianism, I set out on a search for resources instead of interrupting people’s elevenses. First I read a book, then I ran some Google searches, and finally I went through all the cookbooks in my household to map my new vegetarian journey.

While I can’t recommend all organizations (I’m looking at you and your sexist strategies, PETA), there are countless books, websites (like this or this), and videos to turn to if you’re curious.

Girl with Eating Animals book.

The resources are endless people.

Because so many resources are available, and intensive Googling is practically second nature, I can only conclude that people ask for my rationale midst meal in the hope of exposing me as a Self-Righteous Meat-Eater-Hating Radical Sentimentalist. I may be some of those things, but I generally don’t want to deal with that kind of accusation right as I’m about to dive face first into my cabbage-reduction-swimming chickpea pattie.

Brunch picture

Would you want to wait?

Very rarely do I hear people talk about that important moment when they decided eating beef burritos was right for them. Nor is anyone generally asked about the ethics and personal history of their decision while enjoying a delicious pepper steak. I’ve never seen a carnivore frustrated by having to speak for a whole meat-eating community, yet I feel that frustration on a consistent basis.

Being vegetarian (for me) is very much about making the personal political. That doesn’t mean every vegetarian around you is on a mission to shame meat eaters while shoving salad down their throats. Eating is intimate for everyone – how you eat in our society is something you need to decide, and it can take time to figure out exactly how you want to go about it. I’m still learning myself.

Cat eating salad.

Non-consensual salad: not into.

I won’t lie – I enjoy being an imposition. I think it’s important to make people uncomfortable every once in a while and be unapologetic about your deviant feelings and life choices. And don’t try to tell me eating and feeling are mutually exclusive – I am way too emotionally invested in food for that argument.

If you really want to engage with me in a sincere discussion about my personal history with food, at least let me finish my french toast stuffed with vanilla nut vegan cream cheese first.

And while you’re at it, stop asking if I’m getting enough protein.


About Andrea Hampel

Andrea is a Boston-based vegetarian feminist and an editor and contributor for Woolf Woolf. When not eating extravagant poached egg brunches, Andrea enjoys reading literature that celebrates women, questioning social norms, experimenting with kale, editing, and visiting food trucks.